ISO Knowledge Management certification: To be certified- our personal perspective

Let's begin with some background: on October 30th, 2011 the Standards Institution of Israel published the first Knowledge Management standard (ISO Israeli Standard 25006). The standard was written by the Israeli Standards Institute (ISI) using an extended team of experts assembled for this purpose according to the ISI's rules of standard creation. The standard's purpose is to define what's required from a knowledge management system in an organization aspiring to leverage its business skills by leveraging its intellectual capital. Also, the standard defines what's required from an organization aiming for authorization.

 The standard sets the bar high for such organizations, and lists the variety of solutions and tools that can assist reaching it.

The standard lists the requirements and rules of Knowledge Management implication in organizations and lists a variety of definitions, processes, tools and solutions used to document and measure the organization's Knowledge management.

As expected from a company which specializes in Knowledge Management, we didn't hesitate and decided to set an example for our clients, and check and assess our company's Knowledge Management system. And so it was decided: we'll apply for the ISS authorization process.

The first step we took was to evaluate our readiness in accordance to the requirements stated by the ISS in the following aspects:

  1. Management's commitment: responsibilities and requirements of the organization's management.
  2. Resource investment-human resources and technological infrastructure required.
  3. Culture-defining our desired knowledge managing culture, diagnosing our current culture and writing a program that addresses the difference between the two.
  4. Current Knowledge Management solutions.
  5. Knowledge Management implication- guidelines for initiation, execution and assimilation of the knowledge according to the process-based approach.
  6. Documentation- documentation goals; detailing the content documented.
  7. Assessing and evaluating- goals and fields
  8. Lessons learned from the organization's KM activities.

As expected from a knowledge management company, we were indeed ready as we began the process. In accordance to the standard's requirements, we executed a thorough, strictly-phased process over time in order to implicate the organization's Knowledge Management activities. The standard encourages using the process-based approach as the basis for effective and efficient long term knowledge management. The stages of this approach are: a) setting a policy. b) Identifying and analyzing gaps. c) Planning and executing. d) Assessment and evaluation. e) Learning lessons. We worked according to this model.

Setting a policy: We defined our vision, including both goals to be achieved by our Knowledge Management needs and Knowledge Management culture. A specific policy was defined for each Knowledge Management component Storing, preserving, sharing, accessibility and knowledge development. We made sure each component suits the company values.

Diagnosis and identifying gaps: We implemented two processes of diagnosis and need charting: One diagnosis concerning the state of our Knowledge Management culture in relation to our cultural vision and another concerning the quality of our Knowledge Management. When we began charting our needs we didn't think we'd come up with nothing, as we invest ongoing effort in charting. We defined needs and addressed each need appropriately. Yet still, the standard pushes one to constant improvement. The charting always refers not to what has already been done, rather to what is right and should be added. Therefore, it always finds new, untraveled routes.

The results of these tests were presented in a survey and were approved.

Planning and execution: We decided what subjects we wish to promote. We began to form an organized work plan to promote each subject while considering our schedule as well as desired results. We chose three central subjects that were announced as projects for 2013.

Assessment and evaluation: We defined qualitative and quantified measures as well as the goals of our projects.

Learning lessons: We decided at what stages we want to stop and learn by producing lessons. We defined specific points in each projects and inserted the lesson learning activities into our work plan.

All this activity was started on June 2012. We set two main goals: one is to pass the examinations and be one of the first organizations certified; the other was to (more importantly) "utilize" the standard and its requirements to leverage our Knowledge Management activities. They were indeed leveraged.

Early December 2012, the big day finally arrived. An inspector from the SII arrived and we were requested to prove we meet all demands. The examination day was a success, and at its end we received the good news: we passed.

This might sound trivial to some, that a Knowledge Management sCompany will be able to construct a quality Knowledge Management system. Nevertheless, this was not an easy task and required cooperation of all company workers. Everybody wanted to pass this test and prove the not only that the shoemaker's children do not go barefoot, but actually have the fanciest shoes of them all.

To conclude, we can only recommend other organizations to embark on this journey. It ends with you receiving the certification, or better yet, it ends with your knowledge management system reaching new heights.